The Regional round of the FHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament kicked off last night. We headed over to Oviedo to take in a pair of teams we had not gotten to see in the regular season in Episcopal School of Jacksonville and The Master’s Academy. Though the FHSAA power rating had Episcopal as the four seed, the game was held at five-seed Master’s as Master’s won its district title while Episcopal was runner up to Jacksonville Providence.
It certainly looked like Master’s was going to put the game away early as the Eagles soared out to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes before Episcopal called a timeout. After that momentary break, each team hit a three to make the score 12-3 midway through the quarter. At that point, things got better for Episcopal as they started finding the range from the perimeter. Episcopal closed out the quarter with an 8-4 spurt to get to within five, 16-11, heading into the second period.
Episcopal’s run continued as the second quarter progressed. It seemed like for every two-point bucket The Master’s would score, Episcopal would close the gap with a deep three. Midway through the quarter, The Master’s lead was just three at 26-23. Back-to-back threes from Episcopal over the next minute and thirty seconds gave Episcopal its first lead at 29-26. The Master’s came right back finishing the half with an 8-2 run to put them up three at the break, 34-31.
The third quarter was all about the Diamond-and-One defense of The Master’s Academy. Whatever wrinkle the coaches added at the half made a great impact as it held Episcopal to just four points in the third quarter, both from 6’1 senior Beza Miller. On the offensive end, The Master’s found the range from behind the arc. The Master’s may have only scored eleven points in the quarter but going into the final period, they led by ten, 45-35.
The Master’s continued to build its lead gradually in the final period. The defense continued to force Episcopal into difficult shots and The Master’s took advantage. The dagger came midway through the period as 6’1 junior Zion Mitchell of The Master’s stole the ball and drilled a three when the defense was too concerned about protecting the basket giving Mitchell a wide-open look. That pushed the lead to sixteen. Episcopal was now playing against the clock. Forced to foul, The Master’s extended its lead to over twenty for a moment before Episcopal made a run against The Master’s reserves. The Master’s would ultimately win by the score of 75-59.
Mitchell led The Master’s with 17 points. Jaden Huygens, a 6’1 senior, added 15 points while both Devaughn Stallworth, a 6’5 senior and Dylan Labuhn, a 6’3 junior, each contributed 11 points.
For Episcopal, Miller led all scorers with 22 points. Kent Jackson, a 6’2 junior and the focus of The Master’s “junk defense”, finished with 13 points while 6’6 junior Grady Schwartz finished with 12 points.
We came away impressed with improvement in Zion Mitchell’s game. He was 3-6 from deep and showed an ability to get to and finish at the basket in traffic. Mitchell took care of the basketball, made good reads on the move, and covered a lot of ground quickly on defense. He grabbed seven rebounds for good measure.
It was our first time seeing Huygens play and we like his versatility and hoops IQ. The son of a coach, it shows as knows how to take advantage of a mismatch on the offensive end and anticipates well on defense. He dealt out four assists compared to no turnovers in the game. While his perimeter shot wasn’t falling, Huygens has good form and mechanics. He has also has strong frame and uses it well to ward off defenders when heading to the basket..
Miller was the only one to generate any kind of consistent offense for Episcopal. He is shifty and quick with the ball and scored on some tough finishes around the basket as well as dropping in a couple of floaters over the defense. Miller showed deep range on his shot and connected off the bounce as well as the catch.